NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Some New Rochelle residents have been doing double takes in New Rochelle, as they have witnessed a local public works employee driving a piece of construction equipment down the streets as if it were a car.
As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported exclusively, payloaders, or front loaders have big buckets upfront and are made for heavy work. In New Rochelle, they are used for such duties as moving mountains of yard debris at a transfer station.READ MORE: Vaccine Mandate For NYC Teachers, Department Of Education Workers Put On Hold By Federal Judge
But a payloader also rumbles through the streets of New Rochelle multiple times a day on transport errands.
A worker from the Department of Public Works buys coffee, cigarettes and lottery tickets and takes restroom breaks at a store about half a mile from his worksite. And to get there, he drives the payloader.
People have noticed and said they have seen him several times a day, but most were reluctant to be identified Tuesday.
One witness said the worker is seen at the gas station store “at least three” times a day.
Nobody begrudges the working man his coffee, his cigarette, or a few breaks. But critics have emphasized is a large construction machine not designed for driving on the street. The New Rochelle City Hall has gotten complains, but the operator insisted he has no choice.
CBS 2 caught up with the operator, Joe Williams, on one of his scheduled breaks. His ride was parked outside.
Williams conceded that the payloader was not the appropriate vehicle for making coffee runs.
“It’s all I got. They don’t got a bathroom over there,” he said.
Williams said he does not have access to a private car, and said in essence that the payloader is, in fact, his car at work. He has to drive it back and forth at work every day.
“They won’t let me leave it down at the transfer station,” he said.READ MORE: Gabby Petito's Father Announces Creation Of Gabby Petito Foundation Ahead Of Public Memorial Service
Williams said he drives the payloader to the transfer station from the main city Public Works yard, roughly three miles away.
Some New Rochelle residents were not amused.
“The liability that New Rochelle takes by just having that thing roaming around for no good purpose other than to go get coffee just really bothers me,” the witness said.
Williams said he agrees that driving the payloader around is not the safest idea in the world. He said he has talked to his department about it, but claimed the department refuses to let him leave the vehicle behind.
“They don’t want to leave the machine down there because it’ll get vandalized down there,” Williams said.
New Rochelle Public Works Commissioner Alex Tergis said he knows using the frontloader for small errands is ‘not an optimal situation.” But he pointed out that the operator works alone because of cutbacks.
“We are trying to rectify that,” Tergis said.
He said the big-wheel coffee runs could be over sometime in November.
The City of New Rochelle also said state budget cutbacks made it impossible to install security cameras a the transfer station to deter potential vandalism of the payloader, or to hire someone to work with the driver.
The city claimed that using the heavy equipment for routine breaks was its only option.MORE NEWS: Gov. Kathy Hochul Increases Pressure On COVID Vaccine Holdouts As Deadline For Health Care Workers Approaches
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